Deep in the belly of Limpopo Province in Ga-Mphahlele village, lies a rough diamond waiting to be refined. Kamogelo Mmowa is a 35-year-old young man whose courage, ambitious character and determination saw him build a car from scratch in 2016, despite having no formal qualification and funding.
“I was not sure that I would be able to see this project to its completion due to lack of resources and funding, let alone have the car wheel through the dusty streets of my village,” says Mmowa.
Because of his passion for fixing cars, Mmowa started assisting mechanics in his neighbourhood and received a small income. He then bought an engine with the little money he had saved, used the knowledge he had acquired and old scrapped car parts he had collected, to build the car.
Mmowa’s car, which he has coined ‘Buraki2’, has driven as far as Tshwane in Gauteng Province, when he took it to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for evaluation and approval.
“Getting the car approved for road worthiness has been ongoing and I hope to get this process to the ‘end of the road’ soon,” he says.
Despite his exceptional talent and zeal, Mmowa struggles to secure employment due to lack of a qualification. He is also unable to secure funding to start his own workshop due to not having a stable source of income.
Mmowa’s story is goose-bump inducing and gives meaning to the saying: “where there is a will, there is a way”.
He failed Grade 8 four times but still, he soldiered on. He developed a passion for working with his hands while in high school; fixing radios, bicycles and wheelbarrows, amongst other things.
While in high school, one of his teachers tasked him with fixing one of his generators, which he was able to do on the first attempt. He explains that although he was hesitant at first, he was honoured to be entrusted with such a responsibility.
“My teacher was so happy that I managed to fix the generator, he paid me with another one of his broken generators. I thought fixing the first generator was by chance but being able to fix the second one was a ‘eureka’ moment for me – my potential was unleashed,” explains Mmowa.
Upon failing Grade 8 for the fifth time, Mmowa retired from school and concentrated his energy on what he loved the most – working with cars. His first big project, he explains, was building a motor bike using the engine from the generator he had received as a gift from his teacher.
Mmowa explains that although he does not have a formal qualification, motorists from his village and beyond trust his abilities such that they bring their cars to his house forrepairs.
“My goal at the moment is to obtain a formal qualification so that I can build my own workshop and receive accreditation,” he says.
Mmowa explains that his greatest mentor has been his father, who used to fix electrical appliances in his village.
“I used to watch him while he worked and I would pick up the small materials he threw away to make things such as wired cars, small kettles and the likes from them,” he says.
He explains that his hope for making a success of his career was recently ignited when he was approached by Isaac Boshomane, a merSETA Motor Chamber member who has shown great interest in assisting him reach his goals. He was due to begin training with Boshomane at Kgabo Cars in January 2019, which would ultimately see him qualify as a motor mechanic artisan.